PEORIA, AZ - Imagine this: two cars, with several people inside, crash into a train. That train, carrying hazardous materials, derails and starts a fire. To top it off, the crash causes a gas leak.
Disasters like this don't typically play out often in the Valley, but if they do firefighters need to know how to respond with confidence. That's why every quarter local fire departments host emergency situation drills.
This month around 700 West Valley Firefighters from 16 different agencies will take part in this particular scenario in Glendale. The drills are very lifelike with real fire, smoke, victims and signal sounds.
The crews use fire engines, and all their equipment to help the victims and put out the fires. Rick Picard with Peoria Fire said, once crews get on scene they have to decide what situation to respond to first; the car crash, the train car on fire, the hazardous materials or the gas leak.
Then they have to work together to save the victims and get the situation under control. Picard said this can be the difficult part, because the agencies don't typically work together in the field. Picard said drills this extreme came about after a terrible disaster in Kingman back in 1973.
Picard said 11 firefighters were killed and hundreds of people were injured when a derailed train exploded along the highway. There are two drills planned for Thursday.